Google Pixel 2: All you should know about Google’s next flagship

Alexis dela Cruz
Google Pixel 2: All you should know about Google’s next flagship
On October 4, US time, the search giant unveils its newest phone. Here's a rundown of the rumored specs and features

The Pixel and Pixel XL were the first devices ever to be designed by Google itself –and they’re both great. With excellent build quality, topnotch cameras, and the vanilla Android software that many users have come to love, they’re decent offerings for those looking for a flagship Android device.

Of course, the first Pixels weren’t perfect, but Google isn’t an amateur when it comes to the mobile business. That’s why the Pixel 2 is expected to feature vast improvements from the original.

What do people want from the Pixel 2 and what do we know about it so far? Read on to find out.

The release date isn’t speculation by now; Google has confirmed the announcement of two smartphones on October 4 – one year after the release of the original Pixel and Pixel XL. In fact, Google released a video on YouTube and a sign-up page.

How many?
Initially, rumors flew around that Google was to release three instead of just two new smartphones. The smaller variant was codenamed Walleye, while the XL variant was given the moniker Muskie. What piqued the interest of Android fans was the rumored third device, codenamed Taimen, which supposedly was even larger than the XL variant.

The folks at Google seemed to have changed their minds, however, and decided to go with only two smartphones this year: Walleye to replace the Pixel and Muskie to replace the Pixel XL.

What will they look like? 
Do large top and bottom bezels, a not-so-clean back, and a power button with fingerprint sensor placed at the back together with a camera and single-LED flash sound familiar? It would, because most Android devices carry the same design. 

If it weren’t for that little glass window at the back and its “really blue” variant, it would’ve passed as a generic Android device – certainly not what you’d expect from a flagship, and a first release at that.

While not ugly, the Pixel and Pixel XL’s position in the smartphone market makes it a driver of innovation and design, but the first iterations left fans and non-fans alike wanting, especially with regard to the latter. Because of this, their successors are presented with big shoes to fill.

The good news is that the new devices will sport minor differences design-wise, but therein lies the bad news: “minor differences” means that they will look quite similar to the original iterations. If you’re a fan of Google’s smartphone but not of the design, you’ll have to get used to it for now.

Here’s a mock-up by YouTube channel Concept Creator:

One of the most surprising facets of the updated design is the absence of a headphone jack. Last year’s Pixel commercial subtly mocked Apple for removing this on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus so Google doing the same is unexpected, to say the least. The Pixel XL 2 is also quite different from its smaller sibling because it features a bezel-less design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and LG’s G6.

This makes the Pixel XL 2 more compact than its competitors despite its 6-inch screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The back remains mostly the same, featuring a metal back plate with a small glass window; the glass window is a bit smaller, though, with the fingerprint sensor sitting outside of it—a design that may appeal to some, if not most, consumers. Google decided to go mellow on the color variants featuring Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. 

What are the specs?
Being flagships, high-end specs are to be expected from both the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL. One of the most notable features is “Active Edge,” which will let you interact with the device with a squeeze. This is similar to how HTC’s Edge Sense works so it’s neither new nor groundbreaking, but it’s still exciting what a tech giant like Google can do with a technology like that. 

Inside, both devices will be powered by the Snapdragon 835, instead of the 836 that was previously rumored. No official announcement has been made regarding this, but it will be a non-issue for most as the 836 only delivers marginal performance improvements – barely noticeable to most users.

Regarding the camera, Google will be sticking with a single-camera setup. There hasn’t been much word about the camera. but it’s expected to be as great as, or even better than, its predecessor. 

The water resistance of the Pixel XL 2 will be bumped up to either IP67 or IP68. Now you can submerge it underwater for up to 30 minutes, provided that the water’s only 1 to 1.5 meters deep. The Pixel XL only had a rating of IP53, which only made it splash-resistant.

The scene-stealer here will be the screen; from 5.5 inches it’s been upgraded to a 6-inch QHD AMOLED with an 18:9 aspect ratio that also features an Always On Ambient Display mode. Google has also hinted at “extra functionality,” although it’s uncertain if these extras will be present in the Pixel XL 2 or in a later iteration. 

How much will they cost?
Flagship devices come with flagship price tags, and it’s the same with the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2. The previous versions also came at a premium; the Pixel (32GB) launched at around PHP33,177 (US$649) and the Pixel XL (32GB) at around PHP39,311 (US$769).

Google seems to be putting itself in a tight spot with this pricing scheme, making it difficult for them to compete in the current smartphone market. Hopefully, Google will lower the prices in order to increase sales, but it’s unlikely at this point. We’ll have to wait and see – and hope – that Google goes the “affordable pricing” way of competing with the likes of Samsung and LG. –

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